President Biden, who campaigned on reverting back to Obama’s policy of engagement, now resumes Trump’s unfortunate aggressive policies and continues destructive actions against Cuba. The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation continues fostering opportunities for artistic and cultural exchanges that contribute to the normalization of relations and for a better understanding between peoples.
In January 2020, before Covid-19 shut down travel to the island, the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation lead a group of Southern Californians to Havana. The trip included an opening night performance at the Havana Jazz Festival, a trip to Fusterlandia, to Beatriz Santacana’s studio, the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, and the beautiful Hemingway House.
On opening night of the Havana Jazz Festival, Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s cultural exchange artist Dayramir González lead his all-star tribute to Cuban bassist, composer, and arranger, Juan Formell. Formell (August 2, 1942 – May 1, 2014) was best known as the director of Los Van Van. He was a creator of popular dance music and credited with bringing electronic instrumentation into the Cuban musical form. Los Van Van are recognized as a band that transformed the pathway of popular music for an entire generation.
I have completed a fantastic project to be released this fall 2021 called Dayramir González Tribute to Juan Formell & Los Van Van, celebrating the 50 Anniversary of the creation of the band. Juan Formell & Los Van Van are considered “the Rolling Stones of Cuba”, a legendary Cuban band no doubt.
Immersing myself in the music of Juan Formell has been one of the great challenges of my career. Not only because of his musical legacy but also because of what he represents for many a generation of Cubans. An impressive social chronicle extending over 50 years.
Choosing the repertoire was hard, what shall I write? What he created is already so balanced, danceable, I was in doubt what to do. But I knew that I wanted to approach his music from my various internal creative facets: as a composer, arranger and orchestrator as well as presenting my various musical pallets; ranging from my Big Band influences, my European classical music, the Cuban traditional sound of Cha Cha, Danzón, Guaracha and my Afro-Cuban jazz.
This project is a tribute to Juan Formell but it goes far beyond that. It’s a tribute to a global and historical trajectory of Cuban music: from Bach to Ignacio Cervantes, to Chucho Valdes and Irakere, from Duke Ellington and Benny Moré to Juan Formell. - Dayramir González
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The SoCal delegation traveled to the outskirts of Havana to the colorful world of Fusterlandia, created in 1975 by Jose Fuster, “the Picasso of the Caribbean”. Fuster was inspired after a tour of Europe to recreate a Gaudi like public artwork in his home studio and neighborhood of Jaimanitas. The Foundation is honored to have Jose Fuster join the Foundation’s Advisory Board.
"This was my second trip to Cuba and this time my focus was on the arts and culture of Havana. I spent my time enjoying the lively art and music scene throughout the city and particularly enjoyed the visual arts. Visiting the Museo de Bellas Artes was a world class experience. I was fortunate to visit two local working artists in their studios: Beatriz Sala Santacana at her beautiful modern home/studio near Havana, and Jose Fuster’s studio at Fusterlandia in Jaimanitas. Fusterlandia is a fun colorful ceramic filled neighborhood that compliments Mr. Fuster’s imaginative studio. We also visited Hemingway’s Finca outside of Havana which was a wonderful place to tour. Overall, I found the trip to be a wonderful experience".
- Kelli Fisher
Santacana is a self-taught Cuban sculptor, painter and ceramicist born in Havana. In 2014, she opened the Estudio Taller Santacana (Santacana Studio and Workshop), with her permanent exhibition of artwork including paintings, drawings, sculptures, murals, and vases.
The historic virtual “Concert for Cuba”
Held over two nights in July 2020, contained 30 live and pre-recorded musical performances and appearances broadcast to a world-wide audience of 200,000 online viewers and millions more watching on Cuban television. Over 300 people contributed on screen and behind the scenes to create the historic event united in celebrating Cuban doctors, calling for the Nobel Peace Prize and end to the U.S. Embargo of Cuba. The event was sponsored by the Instituto Cubano de la Música/The Cuban Institute of Music; HotHouse (Chicago, IL); Raul Cuza (Montreal, Canada); and Bill Martinez (San Francisco, CA). Its media sponsors were WDCB and The Pacifica Foundation. The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation participated in the event by securing talent and media sponsorship which included:
McDonald, known for some of the Doobie Brothers’ biggest hits along with a very successful solo career has never been to Cuba, but says his longstanding interest in the country and its culture drew him to the event.
“So many Americans share the bewilderment that this embargo continues all these years after whatever the reasons it was initially put in place for have long past,” McDonald tells Billboard. “I feel very privileged to be a part of this.”
- Michael McDonald – Billboard Magazine
Read more about the concert here:
Concert for Cuba: Tom Morello, Los Van Van Join Lineup | Billboard
“To honor the gesture of healing and to lend my voice to those who say after sixty years, it’s time to heal the rift between us”.
- Actor/Activist Mike Farrell
Hear more from Mike Farrell at:
“… I join others in saluting Cuba its art, culture, medical teams and people and urge all of us in the United States to work to end the economic embargo of Cuba for our sake as well as theirs.”
- Actor/Activist Ed Asner.
Hear more from Ed Asner at:
On August 29, 2021, at the age of 91, Ed Asner passed away peacefully at his home, with his loved ones at his bedside. The Foundation is grateful for all his gifts and talent shared with us so many times and with so many, and celebrates the life of our beloved warrior for peace and justice. Ed Asner PRESENTE!
Michael Bonin is a member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing the 11th district. Bonin took office on July 1, 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he is considered politically progressive. Hear Mike calling for ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Listen at:
The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation was awarded its second grant from the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Outreach for Dayramir Gonzalez to return with his master classes at Santa Barbara and Santa Maria High Schools. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the classes were held online.
“Dayramir has performed visits and workshops with my students in both 2019 and 2020 and my students absolutely loved hearing, watching, and listening to him and his band engage with their craft. Their energy, creativity, and passion consistently ignite a flame in my students that exists to this very day…bringing them top-quality, world-class performers is always very much appreciated!”.
- Dylan Aguilera, Director of Instrumental Music Santa Barbara High School
The Foundation is happy to report the receipt of a third grant from the Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation Outreach for Dayramir to return in the fall of 2021, to teach online master classes at Santa Barbara and Santa Maria High Schools.
The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation welcomes Ed Ferrer as our new Secretary of the Board of Directors.
A very special word of thanks to Bob Schwartz, one of our founding board members who served as Board of Directors Secretary and will now join the Foundation’s Advisory Board.